Karnamrita Das

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DO WE PRAY FOR DIFFICULTIES OR TO REMEMBER KRISHNA?: A dear young friend of mine sent me a quote from a devotee who had noted that in happy situations devotees tend to forget Krishna, so his recommendation was for devotees to pray for difficulties so that can better remember Krishna. While Queen Kunti--a pure soul, by the way--prayed for difficulties, that were in a certain context, and to make a point. When the Pandavas and their Mother Kunti, were in difficulties they had Krishna's association and direct intervention, while at the time of her prayer, when life was good, Krishna was leaving them, so to her, problems and difficulties with Krishna were much better than a happy life without Krishna. She wasn't a lover of problems, pain, or difficulties, but of Krishna, and she was willing to accept any condition if it fostered her love and service for him. That is the lesson we are meant to learn from her prayer.

Thus, personally, I don't recommend devotees pray for difficulties or distress--those come naturally as does happiness--but to remember Krishna always; to be sincere; to make spiritual advancement so they can deal with any situation in the best way; and to see everything as favorable for service. While difficulties or distresses may foster taking shelter of Krishna and remembering him more, they may not. Whether they do or not depends on our level of spiritual advancement and the timing, or when it happens in our lives.

I know young devotees, who after hearing Queen Kunti's prayer, prayed for difficulties and distresses, but when they obtained them (be careful what you pray for!!!), they were not happy and more Krishna conscious, but were often simply bewildered, in anxiety, and became upset with Krishna. We have to be able to digest and know the meaning of the results we pray for. In a similar way I tell devotees not to ask their guru to answer a certain personal question if they aren't willing to accept advice that may go against what they want or feel they should do. On a certain level many of us just want to surrender, but to do so, well, we may not be ready to, and after doing the "surrendered action," resent having to do it. Therefore, we have to know ourselves. While we do want to stretch spiritually we don't want to break in the process, or become depressed.
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I admit that the distressful and difficult situations I have gone through have been good for me, but I couldn't live in them always. Ideally we all endeavor for what is most favorable for bhakti for the long haul, and that often includes being married, developing a career, and having a peaceful home environment. I see part of my duty is to be happy, so I can share myself with others. My happiness and authenticity as a devotee speaks louder than what I say, although what I say has more power to the degree I share my experiences and what I have found helpful, in addition to being honest about my struggles and level of spiritual development.

At same time, I can say that cancer has helped me fulfill my life purpose and increase the intensity of my spiritual practice--or to be more joyful and vital as a person--but at a younger age without my life experience, it might not have had the same effect. It isn't just being being in a happy or comfortable situation that can make us be complacent, but not being challenged to live up to our full potential. If we aren't then we aren't truly happy, and may mask our dissatisfaction with material enjoyment or in just being distracted. In such a situation, rather than telling them to pray for difficulties, if we can help such a devotee find their personal contribution or mission, that would be much more helpful.
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GIVE YOUR LIGHT, LOVE, AND BLESSINGS TO OTHERS, NOT MERELY YOUR JUDGEMENT, CRITICISM, AND DOUBT--SEEK TO UNDERSTAND, THEN TO BE UNDERSTOOD: What I write helps me clarify who I am, and who I pray to become--try it!! My life is an opportunity to put my ideals into practice and be the person I was born to be--I can't wait any more for my day to come, so ready or not I am giving what I have and praying for more--but I still have to choose at every moment to go forward and let my unfoldment take its course with determined effort, while practicing patience.

Though sometimes we have to weigh in on issues and evaluate the merit or it's lack in a certain position or opinion, the most essential point for me, is our motivation, and that we don't get pulled down into negativity and a critical mentality that is death for our living, breathing, spiritual lives. I know, or know of, too many devotees that have let reverses, unfortunate events, conspiracy theories, or the shortcomings of leaders, destroy the spiritual potential of their lives and turn them into negative, and grumpy old people, living in some imaginary good old time. To me, there are no "good old days," only today, and this moment, and what we give to it--that reveals who we are. We are what we give. We are our attachments and what we give energy to. We are our faith. We become what we love, what we focus on, and are absorbed in. Therefore, our internal life, and what we think and speak and do are crucially important. If we aren't happy, the first place to look is in our thinking and speaking, and what moves us.
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It seems to me that while there are many positive uses for the Internet, it is also one of the best facilities I know for committing offenses, or aparadhas to others. Thus I really appreciate that one of the vows that Vaisesika asks of his disciples is that they not publicly criticize others, especially in writing, and especially in the Net. The tendency when someone disagrees with another is to attack their character, rather than ask meaningful questions, and be curious to learn why they think as they do. We often just assume and let our mind jump to conclusions without ever verifying them, or talking to the person whose views are different.

This is why my response to this danger is to focus on giving love, kindness, understanding, support, and to look for the good even when I need to disagree. Not always easy, but I have to endeavor and pray to be a cause of encouragement and upliftment. I write and speak to support those goals to the best of my ability and pray for empowerment to do more than I imagined I could--embracing the vision that "impossible is a word in a fool's dictionary."
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